A Dog's life with an Attitude. DOGLEG
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
Like the locust storm that is degrassing Mongolia, there are a host of things that have come to bug me this summer.
The bait and switch news site. Several major media companies have already gone to the full registration required for access website. Even though it is touted as a free site, we know they are data mining the users, and putting together spam and marketing lists from their lists. The new flavor is a news site that gives a reader the first paragraph for free, then one has to link to the next page of the story, only to find it is the registration page with all the data fields ready to put you into a master list. That bugs me.
The Squatter Popover. I got caught on a forwarded web page. There was a pop-up box covering the main feature of the page, which happened to be a comic panel. The ad obscured the panel. I tried to move the box away. It would not move. I clicked on it to get to the advertiser's page, then close it but I wound up back at the same web page position with the ad covering the comic. There was no close box or window shade. I call it a vile squatter ad. That really bugged me.
The Do-Not-Call Hang-up. I registered my home phone number with the national do-not-call telemarketing list. Instead of winding down the number of telephone calls, when I get home, my answering machine has doubled the message calls. However, instead of an inane message, they are all blank (hang-ups). The telemarketers are calling but not leaving messages, but I still have to go through the machine each night to clear it. That bugs me. While writing this article, I have had six! consecutive telephone hang-ups.
Now to get around those do-not-call lists, telemarketers are trying to trick you into becoming one of their existing business relationships. Existing business relationships are exempt from the do-not-call law. Your current bank, mortgage company, and credit card companies are existing business that are exempt from calling you at odd hours trying to cross-sell you new services. But the cold call telemarketer has no such continuing relationship, so it is trying to deceive you into a paper trail of a vendor-customer relationship. For example, they send you an email telling you have won a free case of soda if you click on a return link. Or, they send you an email with a registration form for a contest to win a fabulous prize. By entering into these programs you unwittingly have become a telemarketer's customer. The telemarketer is then going to bug you like before. Wouldn't that really bug you?
Hello? Hello? Cellphone connections are getting worse and worse by the day. They do not even fade to static anymore. They just suddenly drop off into an abyss. That is really buggy.
The Kobe Frenzy. The Internet feeding frenzy over the Kobe Bryant story is way over the top. People have posted the wrong woman's name and photograph on the net as the accuser which has lead to slanderous abuse of her reputation without any real recourse. The questions of ethics in web reporting and web privacy are going to use this case as an example of why government should regulate the transmission and content of the web. Such regulation is contrary to the spirit and intent of the web in the first place. It was the last bastion away from government regulation. But those who took their freedom so loosely and carelessly may have hog-tied all of us in the future.
A California woman sued her state in regard to the touch screen voting booth she had to use during the last election. She claimed that the touch screen voting system violated her voting rights because it had no paper verification or tabulation check that her vote actually counted. In the old method, a person shows an ID, signs a register, then gets a ballot, punches holes in it, puts it in a box and it is tabulated. If there is a recount, then the paper ballots are retabulated thus guaranteeing that a voter's vote counts. But the flaw in the touch screen system is the lack of permanency of voting records. Now coupled with a different story about electronic voting software flaws where security can be bypassed and the results manipulated, e-voting is in hot water. What bugs me is that the officials, consultants and software engineers did not realize these basic flaws (or in the worse cynical evil thought-pattern, the pols wanted to have a backdoor for ballot stuffing purposes.)
The Non-Search Search. The major search engines are in a major push to generate major revenue. They have large staffs putting in search tags for advertising clients to get their names listed high in the result pages. Now, it is one thing to put those clients in the top sponsor section of the first result page, but I can tell that the advertisers are pulling down the first, second, third, fourth and beyond pages, too. Topical information is lost in a sea of advertising links. The search itself becomes a non-search since the information requested is rendered meaningless from the new search protocol of advertisers first, all others last. It bugs me that the search engines still proclaim their superiority in giving a user the quickest and best access links to their search requests. But recently, the best links are found in the secondary, less commercial search engines.
October 1, 2003 cyberbarf
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Y2K in 9 Seconds
It only took 9 seconds to put the Eastern Seaboard into darkness. The Eastern Interconnect power grid began to cascade and trip off line power plant after power plant after allegedly three Ohio transmission lines overloaded and quit. Surprised? Apparently, every mayor and governor was seriously ticked off by the event, the Blackout of 2003.
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People's memories must have the half-life of spring snowflake. It was only four years ago when we were bombarded by the prospects of the End of the World when the entire computer network would fail on January 1, 2000. What was the first thing people were told to do? Be prepared for the worst. Have bottled water, foodstuffs, flashlight, extra cash, a full tank of gas, batteries and a family emergency contingency plan. Restaurants, hotels and bars had one of the smallest New Year Eve celebrations at that time. People were really worried. The media had hyped the crisis. Businesses spent billions on upgrading computer programs.
The doomslayers knew what was at risk. The electric power grid was a prime example. How many people rushed out to buy generators? Everyone who had the cash and a huge meat locker filled with frozen beef. People spent thousands of dollars on personal power generators. One would go into a home improvement/hardware store to see signs saying WE HAVE NO MORE GENERATORS.
The doomslayers also said that the banking system would collapse. People feared that they would lose their savings because the bank's accounting system was merely zeros and ones in a fragile computer code. So many people took out their life savings and buried it in coffee cans in their backyards. Crazy? Not if a parent or grandparent had lived through the Great Depression when an economic downturn wiped out their entire life savings. Some never trusted banks again.
So on one of the hottest, humid days of the Summer, just as people were going home, and cranking on their air conditioners and microwaves, there was a power overload. As quickly as the power went out, the blame game started over the airwaves. Bill Richardson, Clinton's former Energy Secretary, decried the situation as America having a Third World power system. Curiously, no one recalled him saying that when he was in charge of the situation during the Y2K mania.
Common sense dictates that the USA demands more power. Look inside your home. Look how many new electronic devices you have in your home that your parents did not have. Computers, scanners, printers, cable boxes, DVD players, answering machines, double ovens, microwaves and theatre screen television sets. We are power hogs.
However, the political correct crowd has lobbied under the banner of environmental protection to block new power plants from being built in their neighborhoods. In Northern Illinois, the gas utility wanted to build small peaker plants, to generate electricity during peak demand loads, throughout the growth area of the region (the very place demanding more power). It was blocked by the local officials. It is now in litigation. Meanwhile, another thousand homes are being built in the area annually, without an upgrade in the power system. Put this single example and apply it throughout the nation, you have a real infrastructure problem. It is staring you straight in the face.
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Our Rock Stars
In July, a news report from Germany brought the claim that famed aviator Charles Lindbergh had fathered several children with a mistress in Germany. The alleged children of Lindbergh brought their claims to the media after their mother had died. Lindbergh was internationally famous for the trans-Atlantic flight when air flight was still a relatively new science. He become even more famous when his child was kidnapped, and the trial of the century was front page news across the globe. No one is around to verify the truth of the German claims, but it brought into focus how culture-society views its heros and celebrities in the times they lived in the headlines.
Heros are rebels in our society. They were the risktakers, the pioneers, the shock and awe in the average person's mundane life.
Let's go backward. Who were the hottest superstars in demand just before Y2K? Computer programmers were as good as gold to companies who spent billions before the computer glitch fizzled. Linus Torval may be the icon for the next century if the Lane operating system becomes a real alternative to the Microsoft computer OS stranglehold.
In the 1990s, who did youth inspire to become? Depending on your view, a guy with a dot com business plan on the back of an envelope taking the idea public for $100 million or the more conventional, hard working pro-athlete (name your sport, you got your big name star with posse in tow.)
In the 1980s, in the post MTV launch era, people were predisposed to be a rockstar-actor-brand name commodity like Madonna. It was the era of corporate greed, where bankers created the concept of junk bonds, risky investments, and pushed them off on pensioners.
In the 1970s, rock stars were cool. The lifestyle legendary cool. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. That was all that was needed in life. It was the beginning of the big money stadium show bands that turned into walking conglomerates.
In the 1960s, astronauts were respected as heros, and their names known by all school kids, especially after the 1969 moon landing. The whole world stopped to watch that event. Remember Space Food Sticks?
In the 1950s, lounge singers were the top of the bill. Cool was defined by the Rat Pack era boss, Frank Sinatra.
In the 1940s, the silent majority was born. Those who went off to war, lived through the horrors of it for American principles of freedom, who came home and went to work at transforming the nation into an industrial powerhouse. Their heros were their generals, MacArthur, Ike, Fighting Bradley and Patton.
In the 1930s, the Great Depression took all classes down a peg or two. The revered men were those who had cash, and spread it around. The rise of the gangster as community leader, like Al Capone, and the corrupt system of politics and crime going hand in hand was not universally abhorred. People admired the gangsters ingenuity and wealth creation in hard times.
In the 1920s, the Gatzby social elite were the fashionable icons of their day. Old money did not need to work; it only needed to play. But the true superstars were the early aviators, who defied the earth bound notion of man, to soar across country in flight. Babe Ruth and the Bronx Bombers barnstormed the nation, making the Yankees the national baseball icon.
In the early 1900s, it was the grand inventors, the tinkers with grand visions, like the Wright Brothers, or Thomas Edison, and thousands of others who transported an agricultural country into a consumer oriented, market driven mechanical society.
Technology was the current cultural starmaker until recently. Steve Wozniak or Woz is revered in the Macintosh community. He helped pioneer the concept of a personal computer, an unheard of prospect in the early 1980s. Bill Gates, almost as an anti-hero after taking the computer operating system software monopoly and leveraging his control over the desktop into making early Microserfs millionaires. Since being adopted by businesses as an alternative to Microsoft, the creator of Linux operating system, Linus Torvalds, has a growing cult status as the leader of the open software movement. Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway and the iBot, the highly specialized wheelchair that can climb stairs, may be the 21st century's Thomas Edison.
It is clear that early American heros were inventive people who fundamentally changed society. The technology of moving the nation from agricultural to industrial spawned a host of wealthy barons and began the dream state that anyone in America could become anything. But as the decades unfold, more and more heros come less from the scientific or technical community, but in the glib, fashionable and short-lived arena of entertainment.
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The Theory of 17
There is a theory that a person's habits, personal preferences, likes, dislikes, are fully developed by the age of 17. The type of marriage candidate, opposite sex, type of music, tastes in food and drink, turn-ons, turn-offs, hobbies, interests, intellectual pursuits. Environmental and social imprints onto one's brain and soul.
People growing up in a depression are generally misers, keeping money close to the vest, a risky investment would be widow and orphan stocks like dividend paying utilities. A person growing up in boom times are generally spendthrifts, with high debt loads and materialistic habitual spending since the good times will never end.
By age 17, family moral and ethical guidance begins to wane toward the society and cultural peer attitudes. If your brain is the ultimate hard drive, receiving and processing data over and over again through cycles of likes, dislikes and experiences, by age 17 one has developed clear patterns of behavior and acquired tastes. That may be why retailers target this segment of the consuming public with the most direct advertising. In college, a local beer rep told me that it was critical to his business to have college students try and like his products because beer brand loyalty is very strong throughout a person's lifetime.
Take a quick test. Write down your favorite:
Opposite sex body type
Determine what year(s) of influence from the list. Then compare it with other things happening around that time period, going back from age 17 year by year you to see if they are other similar answers that re-enforces your selections.
You are backtracking to when you first remembered hearing, listening, seeing or tasting your favorite lists. Try to navigate back to your youth and see if you can correlate your current favorites to what was happening when you were 16 or 17. Have your favorites changed? Have they stayed the same? Have the evolved but on closer inspection have the same base line elements or style? Then go google the calendar year when you were 17 to find what were the top movies, albums, top models, stars, etc. at that time. Does your answers contain a revealing pattern? Are you teleported back to that year? Does it explain your current list?
Then the final self-examination: does the Theory of 17 hold water?
In an age of self-indulgence, there needs to be time for self-intraspection.
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Summer End Notes
Quick takes on various topics as the hazy days of summer ends:
In the worst summer for jobs for college age students (because their parents and grandparents are working their part time gigs for real in some places), one can imagine the first sentences in the dorms, and frat houses: How was your summer? Sucked.
Democratic contender or pretender, depending upon your viewpoint, Howard Dean, is positioning himself as the vanguard of the electro-electorate. He is pulling toward Gen X cybersurfers with his campaign web site, which has generated more than $4 million in campaign donations. That has raised the eyebrows of other candidates, who hate the idea of night after night of rubber chicken banquet begging for money.
Worker productivity was up during the summer, according to government reports. The explanation cannot be technology upgrades since corporate America is not spending on IT. It could be that there are less slackards working in the cubicles of laid off company XYZ. It could be that corporate system adms have snoop network software to track their fellow employees web logs. It may be just plain fear of losing one's job is pushing people to concentrate on doing their job.
Advertising is the life blood of magazines. Audited circulation is the publisher's only true friend. You can tell how bad the ad market is when you start to receive, unsolicited, magazines in the mail. I now get PC Magazine monthly. I know it is to prop up the ad circulation of the publisher because I run a totally Macintosh office. Is someone trying to tempt me to go to the Dark Side of the Force?
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